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Written for Chandigarh Literary Competition, last month. Word count: 994.


Submitted:Jul 22, 2012    Reads: 51    Comments: 4    Likes: 2   


TIT FOR TAT

She was thoroughly enjoying her stroll when a man lying prone on the roadside caught her attention. Fearing the worst, she turned the limp figure over. Her heart leapt a mile when she saw the man's face. This is the face that she so wanted to forget, that she dreaded the most; the same shameless, abominable, and cursed visage that her nightmares hosted frequently. This structure is one she never wanted to see again in her life.

Her existence moved to a new dimension. Her mind wandered, and involuntarily produced images of her harrowing past. She couldn't help but relive the moment.

"Anee! Surprise!" unveiling the white cloth, her dad gave it a facelift- that's how he introduced the newcomer-an addition to their family-to his only daughter. She gave but not the littlest of thought when she embraced the five-sensed creature; she simultaneously shrieked 'Puppy!' amidst her hugging it. And that became his name. Her mother, too, didn't see any reason to seek logic and meaning in the title her daughter gave it. She, ritualistically, shoved the word "Puppy!" thrice into the brute's tender left ear pulling it slightly, as was the custom in some, or, perhaps, most places in India.

It became Anita's brother, her guard, her companion, her everything. They will play together in their backyard, go on for lengthy strolls, and cuddle each other in Anita's bed (much to her mother's dismay). Puppy became her World-World, with a capital W.

She remembers very well how Raja settled in. He struggled so hard to bear the cold that almost numbed him. He announced that he couldn't bear Nilgiri's cold as he was a resident of Chennai. Anita was told that Raja was their new neighbour. He had bought the huge individual house that stands gallantly opposite of their own old bungalow.

"Raja was a bachelor," her dad told her, "a very decent friend of mine. We were acquainted as we did our bachelor's degree in Coimbatore."

All these ran in her mind within a minute. More than fifteen years had slipped by, and now she is a happily married and is residing in Coimbatore. "Arrrgh!" the hapless silhouette uttered a faint groan. With alacrity, she called for an ambulance.

The assists lifted him onto the stretcher. One of them phoned the police to tow away the damaged vehicle out of the scene. She followed the ambulance in her car. Whilst en route, she called her husband and explained the situation.

"Come on over," spoke Raja, lightly, after days of acquaintance, "I want to show you something and let Puppy stay here."

She followed respectfully.

Anita caught the brute by its head softly, and whispered, "You stay here, Puppy, ok?" and then she gestured in a way as if saying 'stay put.' Puppy, though dithered, obeyed.

He led her to a remote place she'd never been. She hesitatingly said that the place is forlorn and looked like a tribal habitation. She added that her dad had forbidden her from going into those regions. He replied that that was all right to go as he is with her.

Neither of them noticed that Puppy was silently following them against the orders, at a distance.

The area is completely covered with Eucalyptus trees. She understood that they were walking in forest; curiosity got the better of her that she ceased to think about breaking her dad's rules. It was an eight year old child's innocent curiosity which made her look all around in utter amazement. Nothing is new to her-the trees, the invisible squawks, the whistles, hoots, gables, chatters, gibbers, all the regional flora and fauna. Nothing is new! Yet, it all looked brand new to her interest.

"What happened, Ani? Who is that?" her husband, clad in a white formal shirt and dark blue pants, asked her; prior to which, he eyed eerily at the cantonment of police.

"Prem, it is Raja," answered Anita, "err, it is my, our family friend."

"How? What, what happened?"

"I don't know, Prem. I was driving in Avinashi road and I found him lying on ground. Strange that not a single vehicle is passing by," dramatically slapping her own forehead, she added, "I almost forgot! He's lost too much blood, Prem. The Blood Bank's got no stock of A negative. Would you-"

"Of course," Prem stood up.

"Uncle, wha, what are you doing?" Anita shrieked.

"Nothing just shut up and stop resisting," he said, gritting his teeth.

"Uncle!" she struggled to get out of his strong hold. He had jammed her against a tree and is stripping her innocence off. Sensing danger, Puppy sprang onto him; trying to bite his hamstrings, it ended up biting his shoes. Infuriated to extremities, cursing it, he threw a powerful kick aiming at its abdomen. "Keeeeeee!" with a strident cry, went Puppy flying off to some distance. That's all. It never ejaculated a bark again.

Resuming back to her feet, she, instead of running, seeing Puppy being kicked, ran to inspect her pet. "You killed him!"

He used this chance to grab her tight. Pinning her down on the ground (near the dog's corpse), shifting his whole weight on her, he had won the easy battle. When everything is over, he stood up and warned, "If you say any single word about this ever, I will kill your mother."

She saw him retreat through her tears.

"The patient had regained consciousness, ma'am. He wishes to see you," reported the nurse.

Anita went in, holding hands with Prem. Another nurse who was adjusting his glucose drips, acquiring them in her vision, told the patient, "Ah see, she's the one who saved you on time and this is her husband who gave you blood."

Raja, lying fully plastered, shrunk his myopic eyes to focus. He recognized her.

He closed his eyes unable to face her, in shame. A tear glided down his right cheek.

Tit for tat!





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